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Florence County courthouse expected to be finished in 2018

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A new Florence County Judicial Center is under construction, with opening scheduled in early 2018. The $32 million project is being developed from the existing county administration building.

Stevens & Wilkinson, based in Columbia, is serving as the architecture, engineering and interior design firm of record for the new building.

In addition to architecture services, Stevens & Wilkinson also provided the civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and audio-visual engineering services for the project. Goforth Brown & Associates, based in Florence, is the associate architect on the project, and BE&K Building Group is serving as the primary contractor. Construction began in December 2016.

The three-story, 120,000-square-foot building will provide space for 170 court employees and function as a circuit court, family court and probate court.

“We were able to propose several design solutions during initial considerations for the site,” said Ashby Gressette, president of Stevens & Wilkinson, in a press release. “Councilmen and civic leaders recognized the value of having the new building at this site, serving as another major contributor to the city’s growing downtown redevelopment.”

The site plan is L-shaped, and includes a public entry plaza at the southeast corner along with a landscaped courtyard.

“The landscaped entry plaza serves as a fore court to the monumental structure and provides a sequence of spaces from outside to the lobby,” Gressette said. “A broad linear green space, referred to as the ‘courthouse square,’ reflects back to historic courthouse grounds while providing a satisfying connection between current downtown redevelopment and future growth.”

Like several modern courthouses, the Florence County Judicial Center utilizes a “bar” layout where pairs of courtrooms are serviced by a high-security core. There are four courtrooms per floor and additional aspects of the layout include a public zone and a restricted zone for judges and juries.

The exterior design of the judicial center will have traditional elements. The base, middle and top are to be expressed in cast stone and brick veneer, while columns will help modulate the elevations.

The existing 11-story, 168,000-square-foot Florence County Administrative and Judicial Complex was constructed in 1969 and originally housed the city and county administrative agencies, along with the courts, sheriff’s office, police, and jail facilities. The original building likely will continue to be occupied by county administrative agencies, with some space available for lease.

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